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"Something Scary Happened"

...a reason for caregivers to stay fit...

Wednesday I promised my post about fungus but started that post by writing, "The topic on fungus almost got sidetracked again because of something scary that happened with Bob last night. But since I promised you fungus, fungus you'll get."

Today will be about that something scary I mentioned.

Bob isn't a small guy. When we first started dating he was 5'11ish" and weighed in at around two-hundred pounds. He weighs just shy of that now and stands mostly bent forward, so he seems much shorter. Shorter than I am and I'm 5'5" with my max cushion comfy shoes on.

Anyway, as we do most evenings, after catheterizing him before bedtime, I finish up by brushing his teeth. As I was brushing, he suddenly lost his balance and started to fall backwards.

If you recall football season 2022-23, in January, Damar Hamlin with the Buffalo Bills took a hit to the chest causing him to go into cardiac arrest. After the game there was a ton of coverage about it but I remember one doctor commenting, saying something to the affect of, "If hands fly up and the body falls backward, that's an indication of cardiac arrest."

That's sort of what happened with Bob. Plus, he has been diagnosed with heart failure due to his thoracic aortic aneurysm. Right away I thought cardiac arrest.

I was brushing his teeth at the sink where we stand. I always tell him, "Hold onto the counter with your left hand." I have to tell him every time and either he does or I have to place his hand for him. Then, I hold him under his jaw so that I can do his teeth. This is how it's always been since he stopped brushing his teeth, sometime in 2020.

But this time, he started to fall. Backwards.

His eyes flew open and, had I not been hovering over him, I don't know if his arms would have flown upward.

Either way, I caught him around his right upper arm, wheeled behind him to stop progress and stopped his fall. He ended up leaning fully against me with my arms under his. After I knew he was no longer falling, I led him to the bench in the bathroom for a pause. He was pretty scared by what had just happened. So was I.

At this point, I have to say that God has given me some strength. Both emotional and physical strength. I'm in pretty decent physical condition for a sixty-five-year-old hippy.

After getting Bob back to bed, I searched the internet to look up anything that could shine some light on what just occurred.

I use Google as my search engine and typed, "Aging man falls backward" and got a host of options all indicating backward disequilibrium. I trust the NIH National Library of Medicine and it was one of the top choices so I was super thrilled to read their info about this issue.

Basically, they say that backward disequilibrium (BD) is common in aging people especially in people with cognitive decline, like dementia. They talk about it in great detail.

It's not the falling that precedes the BD, it's the BD that precedes the falls. BD is indicated by posture changes and a host of other things Bob has been exhibiting, like tiny steps, and slumping forward and toward the side while in bed, and in his poor posture--his needing to bend forward while walking.

I have described both Bob and my Mom as physically turning into human question marks.

They start to feel off-balance and compensate for it by bending forward. My mom could use a walker for a time. But Bob couldn't. A few years back, we tried it out on him. He only played with it. He acted silly and goofed around by placing it several feet in front of him then slid it back and forth or up and back. So, we bagged the entire walker idea. He might be able to use it now. It's in the garage. I think I will pull it out and see if he likes it better now. Now that he almost fell. I'm glad I decided to write about this or I may not have thought about it.

But here's the thing, the other night, his falling was so sudden. He wasn't walking. He wasn't standing up and then lost balance. He was leaning his hip against the counter, his hand on the counter with me was cupping his head under his jaw.

It happened quick. We might've had a different outcome. Thank God, we did not.

Which brings me to this. If you can get out and take brisk walks alone for exercise, do so. If you can join online or in-person exercise classes, do so. As caregivers, we need our strength to tend to all the physical activities our loved ones require of us. Exercise helps release endorphins and endorphins help our moods. So does the sun, by the way so try to walk outside when it's sunny.

We also need emotional and spiritual strength to endure the long walk. But so does your loved one. Their strength they will find in you. You can find mental support with therapy for sure. I love going to a therapist but on the island they're usually fully booked and I don't travel much off-island anymore. But I find most of my solace and emotional help through spiritual channels. As a Christian, I read the Bible.

With Easter approaching, I think of Jesus' final walk through Jerusalem. There was one man who helped Jesus with his cross. To me, other than Jesus' fate, that man sticks with me the most. Bob's cross is this crappy dementia.

31 And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified. 32 Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross. 33 And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, 34 they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink. ~Matthew 27

I hope all of this helps you at some level.

God bless you all.

132 views3 comments


Bless you Susan for your love and concern. You almost put Job to shame. Hang in there.


Thank you for your advice, always. And I admire and respect your love for your husband. You are a treasure, Susan.


I am learning a lot of valuable information from you. I'm sorry you and your family are journeying through this difficult time. But, please know you are helping others by sharing your experiences. God bless you all.

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